Robert Aris Willmott

Robert Aris
Willmott
1809
1863

English Author, Scholar and Literary Historian, Edited the Poems of Robert Burns

Author Quotes

Whatever is beautiful is also profitable.

Winckelmann wished to live with a work of art as a friend. The saying is true of pen and pencil. Fresh lustre shoots from Lycidas in a twentieth perusal. The portraits of Clarendon are mellowed by every year of reflection.

Taste is improved by cultivation.

Joy and grief are never far apart. In the same street the shutters of one house are closed, while the curtains of the next are brushed by shadow of the dance. A wedding-party returns from church, and a funeral winds to its door. The smiles and the sadness of life are the tragi-comedy of Shakespeare. Gladness and sighs brighten and dim the mirror he beholds.

Taste is often one of the aspects of fashion.

Literature is the immortality of speech.

The amplest knowledge has the largest faith. Ignorance is always incredulous. Tell an English cottager that the belfries of Swedish churches are crimson, and his own white steeple furnishes him with a contradiction.

Many books belong to sunshine, and should be read out of doors. Clover, violets, and hedge roses breathe from their leaves; they are most lovable in cool lanes, along field paths, or upon stiles overhung by hawthorn, while the blackbird pipes, and the nightingale bathes its brown feathers in the twilight copse.

The discovery of one star is the promise of another.

Newton found that a star, examined through a glass tarnished by smoke, was diminished into a speck of light. But no smoke ever breathed so thick a mist as envy or detraction.

The drama embraces and applies all the beauties and decorations of poetry. The sister arts attend and adorn it. Painting, architecture, and music are her handmaids. The costliest lights of a people's intellect burn at her show. All ages welcome her.

No canvas absorbs color like memory.

The drama is the book of the people.

Occasionally a single anecdote opens a character; a biography has its comparative anatomy, and a saying or a sentiment enables the skillful hand to construct the skeleton.

The fame of a battlefield grows with its years; Napoleon storming the Bridge of Lodi, and Wellington surveying the towers of Salamanca, affect us with fainter emotions than Brutus reading in his tent at Philippi, or Richard bearing down with the English chivalry upon the white armies of Saladin.

Of many large volumes the index is the best portion and the usefullest. A glance through the casement gives whatever knowledge of the interior is needful. An epitome is only a book shortened; and as a general rule, the worth increases as the size lessens.

The history of men of science has one peculiar advantage, as it shows the importance of little things in producing great results. Smeaton learned his principle of constructing a lighthouse, by noticing the trunk of a tree to be diminished from a curve to a cylinder... and Newton, turning an old box into a water-clock, or the yard of a house into a sundial, are examples of those habits of patient observation which scientific biography attractively recommends.

One interesting feature of criticism is seen in the ease with which it discovers what Addison called the specific quality of an author. In Livy, it will be the manner of telling the story; in Sallust, personal identification with the character; in Tacitus, the analysis of the deed into its motive. If the same test be applied to painters, it will find the prominent faculty of Correggio to be manifested in harmony of effect; of Poussin, in the sentiment of his landscapes; and of Raffaelle, in the general comprehension of his subject.

The importance of the romantic element does not rest upon conjecture. Pleasing testimonies abound. Hannah More traced her earliest impressions of virtue to works of fiction; and Adam Clarke gives a list of tales that won his boyish admiration. Books of entertainment led him to believe in a spiritual world; and he felt sure of having been a coward, but for romances. He declared that he had learned more of his duty to God, his neighbor and himself from Robinson Crusoe than from all the books, except the Bible, that were known to his youth.

Philosophical studies are beset by one peril, a person easily brings himself to think that he thinks; and a smattering of science encourages conceit. He is above his companions. A hieroglyphic is a spell. The gnostic dogma is cuneiform writing to the million. Moreover, the vain man is generally a doubter. It is Newton who sees himself in a child on the sea shore, and his discoveries in the colored shells.

The light of genius never sets, but sheds itself upon other faces, in different hues of splendor. Homer glows in the softened beauty of Virgil, and Spenser revives in the decorated learning of Gray.

Poetical taste is the only magician whose wand is not broken. No hand, except its own, can dissolve the fabric of beauty in which it dwells. Genii, unknown to Arabian fable, wait at the portal. Whatever is most precious from the loom or the mine of fancy is poured at its feet. Love, purified by contemplation, visits and cheers it; unseen musicians are heard in the dark; it is Psyche in the palace of Cupid.

The ponderous tomes are bales of the mind's merchandise.

Poetry deserves the honor it obtains as the eldest offspring of literature, and the fairest. It is the fruitfulness of many plants growing into one flower and sowing itself over the world in shapes of beauty and color, which differ with the soil that receives and the sun that ripens the seed. In Persia, it comes up the rose of Hafiz; in England, the many-blossomed tree of Shakespeare.

To study history is to study literature.

Author Picture
First Name
Robert Aris
Last Name
Willmott
Birth Date
1809
Death Date
1863
Bio

English Author, Scholar and Literary Historian, Edited the Poems of Robert Burns